Boise State Football

Boise State’s blue turf is getting a new look. Here’s the design — and a history lesson.

Construction began this week at Albertsons Stadium to replace the iconic blue turf with a bigger, better version.

The old turf will be ripped up in sections, and the project is scheduled to be completed by May 30, a Boise State spokesman said Thursday.

Here’s what you need to know about the project:

How much will the new blue turf cost?

In January, Boise State Athletic Director Curt Apsey told the Idaho Statesman that the final cost would range between $600,000 and $1 million. Boise State already has received permission to spend up to $600,000 to start the replacement process from Idaho’s Permanent Building Fund Advisory Council. If replacement costs exceed $600,000, Boise State could go back to the council and request more funds.

What updates/improvements are planned?

The turf will be extended all the way to the stands on the west side of the stadium, while the east side will extend an extra 8 to 12 feet, eliminating the slippery transition for players where the track used to be. Extending the turf all the way to the east stands would limit planned future renovations to that side of the stadium. Other subtle updates include font changes for the numbers on the field and the word marks in both end zones. The Albertsons Stadium logos also have been updated.

What company will complete the construction?

FieldTurf and Boise-based McAlvain Construction won a public bidding process to install the field based on their qualifications and history with similar projects. A committee that included two representatives from Boise State, two from the Department of Public Works and one independent consultant graded their joint bid. It also graded bids from Coast-to-Coast/AstroTurf, Sprinturf and Hellas Construction.

What’s the history of Boise State’s blue turf?

Boise State made history by switching its playing surface from green to blue in 1986. It was the first non-green artificial football field in the country. The surface has been replaced in 1995, 2002, 2008 and 2010. This will be the sixth edition of the blue. Artificial-turf fields typically last eight to 10 years.

Why blue?

Former Boise State Athletic Director Gene Bleymaier was looking for some marketing bang for his buck during a turf replacement. “If you’re going to spend ($600,000) and put a brand-new field in,” he once told the Idaho Statesman, “we’d like people to notice.”

Do birds really crash on the Broncos’ turf?

There’s a popular myth that ducks and geese crash onto the blue turf — mistaking it for a pond. “Dead birds” is still a popular Google search in relation to the signature field. But yes, it’s a myth.

A videographer once spent an entire day attempting to get footage of birds flying into the turf, Bleymaier told the Statesman years ago. He left disappointed.

Are there other colored-turf fields?

Boise State’s blue turf paved the way for other stadiums throughout the country — and even Japan — to install colored turf.

NCAA Division II West Haven has a blue and gold field first installed in 2009 at Ralph F. DellaCamera Stadium in West Haven, Connecticut. There are also colored fields at Eastern Washington, Lindenwood University, Coastal Carolina, Central Arkansas, Eastern Michigan and Hosei University in Kawasaki, Japan.

In 2011, Boise State obtained a federal trademark for non-green artificial turf fields and now provides free licenses to most other schools that want non-green fields.

Did you know?

The Broncos set a school record for margin of victory on Sept. 13, 1986 — the first game on the Blue — with a 74-0 shellacking of Humboldt State in the home opener. The record still stands. The Broncos used a blue-and-orange football for the opening kickoff to mark the occasion. “The creature from the blue lagoon did not pop out of the AstroTurf and gobble up both teams, the cheerleaders and Buster Bronco,” Statesman columnist Jim Poore wrote at the time, “proving once and for all that Lake Bleymaier is nothing more than a good promotional idea.”

Michael Lycklama, Dave Southorn and Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman contributed to this report.

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